An Interim Care Order was granted by the District Court in a provincial city for 28 days in respect of two children amid allegations of neglect, violence and substance abuse. There were another four children in the family and the HSE applied to increase respite foster care for those children. The parents opposed the application.
A social worker told the court that between 2007 and 2013 the HSE had a total of 22 referrals relating to neglect, misuse of drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and chronic school non-attendance. The court heard that there was a history of severe domestic violence between the parents. A Supervision Order had previously been granted in respect of the children. The court heard that the mother had a history of non-attendance at medical appointments relating to her children.
A social worker told the court that two of the children, while with their respite foster carers, had made disclosures of violence within the family home and said that they had been hurt during a violent episode. The children had said that there had been a fight between members of the extended family who were living in the family home. The social worker said that she had brought one of the children to a paediatrician who noticed marks on the child’s body and kept the child in hospital overnight. The court was told that the doctor had communicated serious concerns to the social work department about an ongoing pattern of neglect.
The social worker told the court that she had asked one of the children whether she liked going to the foster carer’s house and that the child had replied: “Yes, because at least I don’t get beaten.” The court heard that one of the children had a severe disability as a result of falling from an upstairs window. The social worker told the court that the child with the disability requires ongoing care and particular exercises to enable her to fulfill her potential. The court was told that each time the child goes to the foster carer’s home it is apparent that her exercises have not been completed at home. The social worker also said that head-lice was a chronic problem in the children’s home.
The court heard that, at a child protection conference, it had been concluded that the children were exposed to physical harm. The social worker told the court that the extended family members who had been involved in the violent incident complained of were residing in the family home. This was, in the opinion of the social worker, evidence that the mother was not co-operating with the social work department. The court heard that the HSE was concerned about the mother’s inability to protect the children from harm.
The social worker told the court that there was a pattern of aggressive behavior in the home. She went on to say that the mother had motivational difficulties around practical issues and said that at one stage the lock on the front door of the house was broken and that the children were using knives to get out of the house.
The social worker said she believed the harm to the two children was too great to allow them to remain in their home. She recommended, however, that the children go home to their mother two nights a week, as they were very attached to their other siblings.
The judge granted the order for 28 days and recommended that the parents engage legal representation.